Bratten’s (New England-style) Clam Chowder

 - by Elizabeth

Bratten’s was the name of a seafood restaurant that began in Salt Lake City, but also had a satellite restaurant in Ogden Utah, where my parents used to go.

My father and mother lived for a time in Boston, New England as it was known and fell in love with their clam chowder; Bratten’s came close to what they remembered.

So, somehow I got the recipe (this was before the internet, so maybe from my mother?) and have made it and loved it for many years as it makes a thick chunky soup.  A niece, Lisa, asked if I had a good recipe, for she wanted to serve it on Christmas Eve.  So that’s what prompted this post.  When I get an original picture, I’ll post it, but for now, this one will have to do.

New England clam chowders are white, creamy soups.  If you want the red, tomato-based soup, that’s known as Manhattan-style clam chowder.

Bratten’s New England-style Clam Chowder

2 (6 1/2 ounce cans ) clams, or 1 pound minced clams with juice

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup finely diced celery

2 cups diced raw potatoes

1 quart milk

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2-3 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Drain juice from clams and pour over vegetables (sometimes I have to add another can of clam juice to cover, or just use a little chicken broth or water).  Cook until tender, about 20 minutes.  Make a white sauce with the butter, flour and milk.*  Add undrained vegetables, clams (chopped, if desired) and vinegar and heat thoroughly.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook’s Note: Don’t let it stand half warm on the stove.  After serving (immediately), stir it often to let it cool down and refrigerate.

*”Make a white sauce?”  Can you tell this is an old recipe?

To make a white sauce, melt the butter in a heavy pan, and add the flour all at once.  Cook, stirring, until this mixture–a roux–seems to become well-blended and cooked.  Add  the milk, a little at a time, until it’s a creamy mix, then add the rest of the milk.  If the milk is cold, it will stop the cooking–that’s why I like to do it a little at a time.  Besides the Joy of Cooking Cookbook says to do it that way as well.

I always like soups better the next day.  This one is no exception.

When we were in Italy, their traditional Christmas Eve meal is a feast of many different kinds of fish.  This soup would be perfect to add that kind of celebration.  One more tidbit: we always serve this with Oyster Crackers, small round crackers found in the grocery store.  Trader Joe’s has the best ones.

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